5 Tips To Prepare Your Home For the Summer Travel Season

(BPT) – According to AAA Travel, nearly 100 million Americans – four in 10 U.S. adults – are planning to take a family vacation in 2019, with two-thirds of all families embarking on a summer getaway. As families across the country take time off to travel and spend quality time together, the last thing they want to worry about is if their homes and belongings will be the victim of theft or break-ins. Luckily, there are several ways that can help summer travelers keep their homes safe – even from miles away.

From alternative delivery options to light timers, here are five tips that will keep you stress-free and your home safe during upcoming summer vacations:

Never wonder if the garage door is open.

It’s not uncommon for people to drive away wondering if they remembered to close the garage door when they are in a rush to begin their vacation. Installing a Chamberlain or LiftMaster myQ-connected Smart Garage Door Opener allows travelers with a smartphone and the myQ app to check the status of their garage door and open or close it from anywhere.

Take advantage of Key by Amazon in-garage delivery service.

Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean your online shopping habit has to be! With Chamberlain Group (CGI) and Amazon’s recently-announced in-garage delivery service, Prime members in 50 cities and surrounding areas now have the option to choose in-garage delivery when shopping. CGI’s myQ technology – which is included in all newer Chamberlain and LiftMaster garage door openers or can be added to most garage door openers in minutes via a smart garage hub – plus Key by Amazon ensure homeowners never have to worry about their packages going missing or damaged by bad weather. In-garage delivery gives travelers peace of mind their packages are safe and secure in the garage until they return.

Make it look like you’re still at home.

Schedule lights to turn on and off while away to give the appearance someone is home even if you are dining out alfresco hundreds of miles away. Also, a classic tell that you’re out of town is an overcrowded mailbox. When leaving on vacation, don’t forget to stop your mail, newspapers and other subscriptions.

Install your own security camera to deter theft.

Home security devices, such as surveillance cameras strategically placed to be seen – but out of reach of would-be thieves – can go a long way in deterring package theft. There are many smart options available today, including Tend, Ring and more.

Make sure your neighbors know you’ll be away.

Most neighbors are naturally nosy – take advantage of that and let them know ahead of time that you’ll be going out of town. From watering plants to letting out the dogs, a trusted neighbor can keep tabs on your home while you’re away, so you can enjoy a sunset walk on the beach without worrying about what’s happening back home.

Traveling should never be stressful, and having the right tactics in place to ensure your home is secure has sizable benefits for safety, convenience and accessibility. Follow these tips, and you’ll have peace of mind that your home will remain safe and secure no matter where you are or what you’re doing.

Prime members in 50 cities and surrounding areas now have the option to choose in-garage delivery when shopping: www.amazon.com/checkmygarage.

4 Ways To Add Value To Your Home

(BPT) – When it comes to your home, you want updates that make your property more comfortable, beautiful and of course, valuable. Whether you have a big budget or more elbow grease than cash to invest, there are numerous things you can do to improve your home’s worth immediately.

Here are three small things you can do to boost your home’s value, plus one big one that will really make an impact.

Small change #1 – Fresh paint

Paint is one of the most affordable ways to bring dramatic change to a room. Adding a fresh hue will instantly update the entire feeling of a space while also making it look more stylish and clean. Neutrals – like tan, gray or greige (gray and beige) – are always a good choice, but don’t fear a bolder color. Not sure? Consider painting neutrals on three walls and using the fourth as a focal wall that features a bolder color choice.

For walls, start by patching and sanding any holes so you get a smooth finish. Use painter’s tape to protect molding and ceilings and help you get a clean line when finished. Drop cloths will protect flooring and furniture. Taking time to properly prep helps ensure you get professional-level results that look great and last a long time.

Small change #2 – Bathroom updates

You don’t need to invest in a complete remodel to get an updated bathroom. A few simple enhancements can make a big difference without breaking the bank. Start by looking at the walls. Remove old wallpaper and repair any damage before adding paint. Then, look at the light fixtures and consider new options. A few quick swaps can add a modern aesthetic and optimum light for bathroom tasks.

The style in a bathroom is often defined by the accessories, so turning attention in that direction can help rejuvenate the space as well. Replace hardware on vanities and other extras like towel bars. Popular materials include chrome and brushed metals, but choose whatever fits with the rest of the room. Finish the look with a new shower curtain and towels to elevate the space.

Small change #3 – Entryway enhancements

Is the place where you welcome guests looking a little dingy? Your entryway is where your home makes a first impression, including buyers when it comes time to sell. Fortunately, it’s easy to update an entryway so it stands out positively and enhances your home’s value.

Focus on the door by giving it a new coat of paint. Then replace hardware with a handsome, high-quality option. You can add a door-knocker or wreath to give it style, if you’d like. Then move to the surrounding spaces. Get rid of clutter to open up the space, and then add in a few key pieces of decor. For example, a plant or welcoming sign makes a house feel like a home.

Bonus #4: One BIG change – Add a deck

When you want to make a big investment in your home to improve its appeal and value, adding a high-quality deck may carry a bigger price tag, but it also offers some of the best return on investment for homeowners. Remodeling Magazine’s 2019 Cost vs. Value Report listed a composite deck addition as one of the highest performing projects when it comes to the rate of year-over-year ROI.

“With the outdoor living trend thriving, people want deck spaces that are true extensions of the home,” said Shara Gamble, director of sales and marketing for high-end composite deck manufacturer Envision Building Products. “Luxury composite decking is growing in popularity due to its exceptionally beautiful appearance and low-maintenance benefits.”

Gamble added that Envision boards have attracted additional attention due to the brand’s exclusive compression molding technology, which is unlike other boards on the market, and uses tremendous heat and pressure to form the boards with deep wood-like grain that never repeats on a single board. Learn more at envisiondecking.com.

How To Add a Bathroom In the Basement Or Garage

(BPT) – It’s home improvement season, which means you’re probably dreaming of enhancements to make your space more livable and to enhance property value. Adding a bathroom is a great way to do both, but for many people, concrete poses a potential problem.

Want to add a bathroom to your garage? How about in the basement? A bathroom addition means you need proper plumbing, and often in these types of spaces none exists. You have a cold concrete slab and a bit of a dilemma: Do you give up on your bathroom dreams or cut through the concrete to put in the conventional below-floor drainage and piping necessary for a bathroom?

Cutting through concrete is not to be taken lightly. Before you hire a contractor or rent a jackhammer and concrete saw, remember these red flags.

5 reasons to avoid cutting concrete

Cutting concrete undermines structural integrity.

When you cut a slab you compromise the foundational integrity of the building. You may be able to patch the hole so it’s aesthetically appealing, but the floor will not be as solid as it was to begin with. Plus, if your home sits on ground that’s less than solid, such as sand, it may settle differently after the cut.

Cutting concrete is never perfect.

You may need to cut a circle, square or rectangle into a floor for burying a sewage ejector and its waste-storage basin, but that perfect shape will inevitably crack on the edges and fray outward in unintended directions. Once a stress crack is created, it can extend into the footing or into the walls.

Cutting concrete is unpredictable.

It is difficult to know the depth of the concrete and whether it sits on rocks or a ledge, as well as if it contains rebar or tension cables. You can cause major damage if you accidentally cut one of those cables, so many professional contractors use an X-ray machine to determine the positioning of the cables, which is an additional cost.

Cutting concrete creates leaks and seepage.

Once a stress crack is generated, radon and ground-water penetration are major issues, with the latter bringing unwanted moisture and mold problems as well. You don’t need a major flood to trigger these hazards. A higher-than-usual water table, because of extended wet weather, could be the culprit.

Large amounts of dust.

Breaking through concrete generates a large amount of noise and dust. The noise stops when the jackhammers and saws shut down, but the dust doesn’t fade as quickly. That’s because it is not conventional household dust, but a thick particulate that gets into the central air system, which means it can be around for a long time if not properly handled.

Consider smart alternatives

Beyond these red flag reasons, cutting concrete can be time-consuming and expensive. The actual expense of cutting concrete depends on the size and complexity of the job, as well as local labor availability and rates. In some parts of the nation, the per-foot rate may be a few hundred dollars; in others, $1,000 or more.

To add a bathroom but avoid cutting concrete and the associated cost, consider Saniflo above-floor plumbing technology. Macerating (also called up-flush) plumbing systems can be installed right on top of the existing floor virtually anywhere in your home.

How do macerating systems work? Waste and water from a toilet, tub or sink are pumped through small-diameter piping, rather than flowing down like conventional plumbing. The up-flush system doesn’t store waste like a sewage ejector system; waste and water move out of the house to the septic or sewer system with every flush.

Macerating toilet and plumbing technology can be installed on top of concrete slabs, which means no costly cuts or messy, time-consuming extra steps. If space is a problem, these bathrooms can also be installed in a closet or the area beneath a stairway. Learn more at http://go.saniflo.com.

4 Home Upgrades, Suitable For the Whole Family

(BPT) – With a bustling household and busy family schedules, updates to the home are often a low priority compared to time spent with loved ones. Consider four home improvement ideas fit for the entire family, which require little time commitment and deliver long-lasting benefits.

Pick paint colors that age well.

Paint can dramatically transform a space, so when you choose a color, pay attention to tones that age well. While kids are drawn to bright hues, reach for colors that are soft on the eyes. Choose colors that work in harmony, like whites and blushes; charcoals and blues; and sages and taupes. To maximize wall space, consider chalkboard paint for calendars, to-do lists and a creative outlet for kids to draw. With the proper equipment – plenty of painters’ tape, goggles and mask filters – painting can involve the whole family.

Choose multipurpose shower fixtures.

Whether you are a parent, caregiver or pet lover, the bathtub and shower are multi-functional spaces. To accomplish daily household tasks such as bathing kids, washing furry friends or cleaning the shower, choose the Delta In2ition Two-in-One Shower. The fixture has a combination shower head with a detachable hand shower with five spray settings, which provides all family members with flexibility and a drenching shower experience. H2Okinetic Technology offers three times the coverage of a standard shower head. Plus, with a sleek transitional design, this upgrade adds an element of style to the bathroom.

Stay safe with smart features.

Beyond the appeal of high-tech gadgets, smart home devices encourage eco-friendly choices and safety for the entire family. Start simple with voice-enabled light bulbs, customized to control each room of the house. The kids can prompt the speaker to turn off lights in their rooms when not being used. As an added layer of home security, install a video doorbell to teach the family to practice awareness when the doorbell rings. Consider smart locks to lock and unlock doors, receiving notifications when a family member comes and goes – all from the convenience of your mobile device.

Contain your cupboards.

Consolidate food storage bins with collapsible containers to provide easy organization when packing lunches, storing leftovers and meal prepping, without having to search for a lid that fits. In the pantry, store tiny boxes of food, such as baking mixes and bags of spices, in clear boxes as a way to spot your supply and avoid scattered or spilled ingredients. In cupboard areas that are most visited, consider a rotating tray so nothing hides in the back to spoil, freeze or be forgotten, while also maintaining order when hungry little hands are searching for snacks. Spice cabinets, beverages in the refrigerator and snack drawers are the perfect starting point.

These upgrades will have your family functioning in a design-forward, eco-friendly and highly organized fashion in no time.